This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.–John 15:12
Let us love one another for love is of God. And everyone that loveth is born of God. And knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; For God is Love. –1 John 4: 7-8
The definition of unconditional reads, “absolute and not subject to any special terms or conditions; it’ll happen no matter what else happens.” This past year was difficult for everyone on the planet.
Being a teacher for over 16 years, I have learned that unconditional love requires an abundance of grace. It requires inclusion, patience and loving others as they are, not as you wish them to be. As a follower of the Christian faith I became increasingly disappointed this year with our response to the pandemic crisis which brought forth division in our country.
This division revealed a need for us to do better at loving one another. My purpose in writing this is to inspire you to do two things; (1) Take a deeper look at how you love others (2) Choose and commit to loving someone unconditionally.
Take a deeper look at how you love others
As we dive into the first commitment in looking at how we love others, let this quote sink in and resonate with your heart.
“You cannot accept God’s grace for your life until you let go of your own righteousness.”
The definition of righteousness is to act in accord with divine or moral law; to be free from guilt or sin. The later part of that definition is where we need to be honest with ourselves. None of us are free from sin. Is there righteousness, judgement or exclusion for those who look different from us or love, believe or think differently from us?
As Christians we don’t get to pick and choose who to love. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou reads, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Let us not forget that our job is actually quite simple…to love one another. Everyday we have an opportunity to decide to live with an open heart. To choose to offer a warm hug, a friendly pat on the back or an encouraging word. That is Christ-like love!
Choose and commit to loving someone unconditionally.
As a child I always thought about people who lived in underdeveloped countries. The burning questions in my mind were… “What if no one tells them about God? What if the messenger never arrives? How can they be saved if they don’t know about the savior?”
With age comes wisdom and I know now that the answer is this….God is within us. Not just in some of us but in all of us. God is in every part of the earth, in every living creature, in every soul. So what should we do if we meet someone who is searching for inner peace and looking to nurture their soul? Maybe they are looking for spirituality, a higher power or something to believe in. Couldn’t we become the messenger simply by showing them love?
Providing a long list of all the things they need to do in order to become a Christian is not where we start. It starts with a genuine message that they are loved as they are and from there to model acceptance, grace and tolerance. To be an example not just in our word but in our actions.
We can say we believe that light and love can drive out hate, but are we showing love in action when confronted with hate? Do we show love in everything we do? Or are we stopping to wonder whether or not they are worthy of love? Not just love but unconditional love? I challenge you to choose someone this year to love unconditionally. This person should be someone who is not easy to love. It could be a coworker who doesn’t share your political views, an acquaintance who has a negative attitude or maybe it’s a complete stranger who needs someone to show them unconditional love.
I realized this year that it’s easy to love others when everything is going great but what about when things aren’t so great. Choosing to love is not easy. It requires a disciplined heart that chooses love over hate, light over darkness and compassion over judgement. In times of struggle and division we must realize the importance of being good to people and contemplate what is best for all of us, not just some of us. May we not let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and fearful. But instead let them make us kinder, more open to what could be, to choose wisely how we respond and more importantly…. how to love unconditionally!